Ponyville was not a town plagued by many injuries or ailments, and it was for this reason that working reception quickly became a battle of will with the beast known as lethargy. Sure, there were a few harrowing events every year that set everypony on edge, but for the most part evenings were quiet, with a cold here and wing flu there. Nurse Redheart was staring listlessly at a thoroughly engrossing clipboard when a silence-shattering crash shook the room. Her desire for rest forgotten, she quickly rose and opened the door, only to have a panting Cerulean tumble through. She didn’t bother making a comment on how it was always him or Twilight bursting in, as the green unicorn that was held to his chest needed immediate attention.
“Softheart, get me a cart, quickly! And page Doctor Stable, somepony’s life is on the line!” There was a scrambling down the hall as Softheart leapt into action, and Redheart turned back to Cerulean who was whispering something, drawing right up next to his lips in order to hear.
“Please, Jade, don’t go. Don’t leave me again. Don’t leave...”
“Cerulean, can you hear me? Cerulean!” Exhausted from spending nearly all of his magic in flying at speeds even Rainbow Dash would approve of, he passed out, his firm grip loosening as Softheart arrived. Together, the nurses lifted Jade onto the cart and Softheart was away, calling for everypony in the halls to stand clear while he was rushed into the emergency room. Redheart hoisted Cerulean onto her back and carried him to a bed to begin the examination. She was just about to get started when a frantic voice called out.
“Two in one day? What the hay is going on around here?” She ran out to the lobby to find Crimson already heading towards a room, and she instantly rushed to the mare’s side. “Crimson? What... oh, that looks...” she gasped softly, looking at Fluttershy’s wing.
“Where’s... Whisper?” Redheart looked at Crimson for an explanation.
“Nurse, did my brother come through here?”
“Yes, he brought another unicorn with him. He looked really bad, worse than Fluttershy.”
“Oh dear... is he gonna be...” Fluttershy started, wincing as the slightest shift sent searing pains through her chest.
“Fluttershy, you’re hurt. Crimson, come. Let’s get Fluttershy to a bed so I can start the examination while Stable works with... what’s the unicorn’s name?”
“Whis... per.” Redheart said nothing and led them both back to where Cerulean lay asleep, placing Fluttershy in the bed adjacent to him. “I... I need to see...” The nurse prepped a needle, nodding as the distraught mare mumbled a little before drifting off to sleep as the injection knocked her out.
“Crimson, can you tell me what happened?” The mare, now free from the effects of the adrenaline, sat in a daze, shaking violently as she held her head in her hooves.
“I... I don’t know... There was a loud blast, and I found her like that in the forest. Cerulean would know more. He knows...”
“Shhh, it’s ok now. We’re going to do everything we can for everypony, so don’t worry, ok?” She nodded but remained where she was as Redheart gingerly felt around the wing. She didn’t need any kind of technology to tell her that it was clearly broken, but the deep bruising around her chest was worrisome. She called for assistance and informed Crimson that they were going to perform an x-ray, but the mare was too traumatized to respond. She fell deeper into the mire of fears until a familiar voice beckoned her back to reality.
“Cerulean? Crimson? Which room are you in?” A lavender streak tore past the door before skidding to a stop, returning and trotting to Cerulean’s bedside. After Cerulean had left, Dawn refused to stay inside, insisting that they wait, and seeing Cerulean tear through the skies, Twilight had immediately given chase. Dawn hopped down and snuggled up next to her father, looking back at Twilight for an explanation as her lip started to quiver. “Shhh, it’s ok, sweetie. Daddy’s sleeping, it’s ok.” She didn’t quite buy it, but if nothing else, his foreleg would be kept warm as she held it tight. “Crimson...” she started, still not turning away from her husband, “what happened?”
“I don’t know!” Twilight left Dawn to continue comforting Cerulean and sat beside the mare who was now weeping quietly as the full weight of the situation came upon her. “I’m sorry...”
“It’s ok, Crimson, I understand. Would you... like to go home? I can stay here and take care of Fluttershy and Cerulean.”
“But... I feel like I... I need to...” Twilight didn’t mean to be pushy, but the mare needed comfort, a kind that she couldn’t give. So she pressed a hoof across her mouth, gave her a warming smile, and teleported her back to Sweet Apple Acres. Standing, she moved around to the other side of the bed and crawled in beside Cerulean, holding out a hoof and drawing Dawn into her embrace as well. Together, they held Cerulean close, providing the warmth needed to keep his nightmares at bay.
Little by little, the news was spread, and Twilight’s friends began to filter in, asking about Cerulean and Fluttershy. Given that she knew next to nothing about what had happened, she had nothing to say to stave off Rainbow Dash’s rising anger towards the mysterious green unicorn that she held responsible for the disaster. Fluttershy was still out from a steady supply of painkillers, due to having several fractured ribs and severely broken wing, and Cerulean was sleeping off his exhaustion, his magic slowly regenerating. Most of them didn’t stay long, as Twilight had already made it clear she was staying at least until Cerulean awoke, and as Rainbow Dash left last, giving one last look at Fluttershy, she slammed the door and resolved to give whoever had hurt her in such a way a beating they wouldn’t soon forget.
“That temper of hers... is gonna cause trouble if she gets anywhere near my brother.” Twilight sat up as Cerulean stirred into wakefulness, gathering Dawn into his arms and holding her close.
“Brother? Wait, the other unicorn... Cerulean, what’s going on?” Starting from the beginning, when he arrived at the cottage, he recounted everything that had happened in the forest. Fascination mixed with sorrow, Cerulean’s pain becoming her own as she saw the desperation in her stallion’s face.
“Twilight, I could never... forget those eyes. He’s changed, and he doesn’t remember me, but it’s him.”
“I thought you said your brother used to laugh and sing all the time? What changed?”
“I don’t know. Whatever made him lose his memory somehow affected his magic; it’s uncontrollable. Of all three of us, my brother was the most in tune with using soul magic. In fact, it’s basically all he ever did. But now, it seems to only activate when he’s frightened or angry. For somepony who translates emotion into magic, the results can be devastating.” He glanced over at Fluttershy, whose wing and chest were heavily bandaged. “Rainbow Dash is furious, isn’t she.”
“That’s putting it lightly, I’m afraid.”
“How bad is she?”
“Three fractured ribs, broken wing. There wasn’t any serious internal bleeding, thankfully.”
“And what... what about Jade?”
“I haven’t heard anything, I’m sorry.” He nodded and looked at the clock, an exercise in futility as he had no idea when he had arrived. “Three hours, give or take,” Twilight offered, reading his mind.
“Thank you for staying with me, Twilight. I think I’m fine now, so why don’t you take Dawn home?” It was the most ridiculous notion the filly had heard, and she let him know it with a rather firm rap on the nose.
“No! Stay with daddy.”
“Easy, Dawn, no need to hit me. Don’t you want me to get better?”
“Health smack!” Cerulean laughed loud and long, clinging to the hope that it brought.
“Twi, what kind of books are you letting her read?”
“The right ones, clearly. It made you laugh, didn’t it?”
“Yeah, though my nose isn’t too happy.”
“No blood, no bannaid!” Dawn quipped, preparing to give him another.
“Look at you, not even a year old and spouting wisdom that would make Starswirl jealous,” he murmured, staying her hoof and holding her close. The matter decided, Twilight and Dawn settled in for the night. Taking a break from the tavern, Silver stopped by with some much needed refreshment, bringing ample amounts of soda for Dawn and Cerulean and Twilight’s prefered drinks. He didn’t stay long, but offered his encouragement and his word that he and Applejack had no hard feelings towards the newcomer. They warned them, however, that Rainbow Dash was still in a heated rage, and it likely wasn’t going to disappear overnight. The nurse came in just once to update them that they were still operating on the unicorn, and Fluttershy likely wouldn’t awaken until the next morning. With no reason left to stay awake, they finished their drinks and closed their eyes.
Whisper... Why can’t I move... my legs... feel so heavy. No amount of struggle seemed to help, the only movement manageable for Fluttershy was to crack open her eyes. The medication wore off slowly, and she sat still as her body slowly rid itself of the pain killers, and comfort along with it. She glanced across at Twilight, Cerulean, and Dawn, all of whom were still asleep in the early morning. Her mouth was dry and she desperately wanted water, but what she wanted even more was reassurance that Whisper was still alive. She tried to speak, but it only came out as a hoarse cough. The muscles in her tongue were also affected, so the only option left was to wait. Dawn awoke early and, noticing she was awake, teleported beside her, offering a gentle hug.
“Shy ‘kay?” She opened her mouth, unable to make a complete drinking motion, but Dawn understood and immediately scrounged up a glass of water, holding it with her magic and letting Fluttershy drink it slowly, pulling it back as the thirsty mare took a bit too much and coughed. “No sad, Shy. Be ok.”
“Whisper...” The filly covered her mouth with both hooves and nodded, missing her meaning entirely. “Cerulean?” Acting in Fluttershy’s stead, she broke her vow of silence and woke both her parents. Since Cerulean had only passed out from expending too much magic, the sleep had restored some of his strength, though he didn’t feel nearly ready to face what was sure to be a grueling trudge through the mire of depression. As soon as he saw Fluttershy was awake, he and Twilight both walked over to her bedside, giving her their full attention. “Where’s... Whisper?”
“I haven’t heard anything since last night. He was... really hurt.”
“I want... to see him.” They knew that it wasn’t a good idea for her to be moving so soon, but the pleading tone in her fragile voice couldn’t be denied. Cerulean excused himself and went to go find a nurse while Twilight offered what comfort she could. Fluttershy wanted to accept it, to feel better, but without knowing the status of the pony that had put himself on the line to try and save her, and possibly had at his own expense, she couldn’t allow herself solace. As Cerulean entered once more, the tears brimming his eyes made her fear the worst.
“Cerulean, he’s not...”
“No,” he choked out, not wanting to scare Dawn but unable to come to terms with the news. “He’s alive, but... he’s in a coma. It’s a miracle he’s still alive, and they’ve managed to... get him stable, but he’s... not going to wake up anytime soon.” He made his way over to Twilight and cast off any notions he had of being strong. “It’s not... it’s not fair, I just found him again, and now...” Twilight closed her eyes as she held him, shedding a few tears of her own as she felt his trickle down her back. Dawn teleported onto his back to offer her support as well, but it wasn’t her tiny hooves nor Twilight’s reassuring words that rekindled hope, but the quiet whisper of one who, despite everything, was untainted by despair.
“It’s... going to be ok.” They all turned to look at Fluttershy who was expending what little energy she had to smile up at the family, feebly stretching out a hoof that was immediately accepted by Twilight. “Don’t worry, Cerulean... He’ll be ok.”
If she can smile, even through all of this, then I have to do the same. For Jade, or Whisper, if that’s what he wants. I just want my little brother back. “Thank you, Fluttershy. You’re right,” Cerulean sniffed, wiping away the tears. “As much... as I want to be there, I think you’re the only one who can reach him. Please, Fluttershy, help him. I just want... my little brother to be ok.”
“Brother? Whisper is...” He nodded, and Fluttershy smiled again, this time just a little wider. “I’m happy, Cerulean. You finally found him.”
“No, you found him, Fluttershy. And you have... no idea how grateful I am.” Fluttershy accepted his warm embrace readily, though she wouldn’t have been able to resist even if she had the desire. “We’re going to help him together. Right, Fluttershy?” She nodded weakly, eyes shining as she imagined being with him again. Before she had a chance to continue, the door cracked open and Rainbow Dash bolted in, standing on the other side of the bed and giving Fluttershy a quick examination.
“Fluttershy! Are you all right? Are you hurt? How’s your wing?”
“Dash, I’m fine, I think.” Unconvinced, the furious pegasus threw back the covers and growled, staring at the slightly blood-stained bandages around her friend’s chest and the wing that was wrapped even more than hers had been when she crashed.
“You call that fine? You could have died, Fluttershy!”
“No, I don’t want to hear it! Where is he, I’ll throttle him!” The chill that ran down her spine as Cerulean barred the door was more cold than she had ever imagined such a cheery stallion could be. She would rather have been face to face with Big Mac than stare into the blazing teal eyes that pierced her to the core.
“If you... so much as think about laying a hoof on my brother... you will never fly again.”
“Cerulean, please...” Twilight begged, cringing as he quiet fury exploded, the anguish of being so close to losing something dear so soon after it had been found blinding him and quickly dissolving any semblance of self control.
“Rainbow Dash, you’re always rushing into things, flying off the handle at a moment’s notice just because somepony you know got hurt, but you never even think to look at the other side! Do you know why my brother is in a coma right now? He tried to protect Fluttershy, and it nearly cost him his life!”
“But he’s the one who caused it!” she cried, backing away and shouting more out of fear than anger.
“He can’t control it! If you even stopped to ask...” Twilight’s gentle touch signaled the end of his tirade as he tried desperately to bring himself under control, his fury sending the temperature in the room plummeting. He couldn’t know how it felt from her perspective, but even if he could, it wouldn’t have mattered. All he could think about was holding his brother’s broken body in his arms, powerless to have stopped anything.
“Rainbow Dash.” She slowly turned to look at Fluttershy, who was, even in her half drugged state, was giving her the stare. “If you do anything mean to Whisper, I may not... forgive you.” Without support, full of humiliation, and broken by Fluttershy’s words, Rainbow Dash hung her head as she trotted towards the door. Cerulean stood aside to let her pass when it opened and she found herself wrapped in Storm’s arms.
“You dunce... I told you not to do it...” He took a look around the room, coming to a pretty accurate conclusion as to what had happened. “Cerulean, I simply wish to ask if this pony, who has put Fluttershy in the state she’s in, is worth defending.”
“With my life.”
No hesitation... “Good enough for me.”
Fluttershy, after everything we’ve... is he really that important to you? I’m... “I’m sorry.” Dash’s whisper was on par with Fluttershy’s, and with a sigh Cerulean walked over and placed a hoof on her shoulders. “I just... couldn’t stand the thought of losing Fluttershy. I was so scared...”
“I forgive you, Dash. Your loyalty runs deep, I know. I’m... scared of losing somepony precious too.” I hate getting angry, it makes me... so tired... “Dash, I have a request.”
“Y-yeah, what is it?”
“Can you go tell Spike to come here, along with quill and parchment? I’d... like to write a letter to the Princess, if that’s ok with you, Twi.”
“That sounds like a good plan.” Eager to have some time to calm down, Dash took off like a rocket, with Storm following behind. Cerulean laid back down, while Twilight left with Dawn to find food. The foal had been incredibly patient, crying little even during the heated exchange. Self-control gave birth to hunger, and an audible gurgle jumpstarted Twilight’s mothering instincts. Fluttershy wasn’t quite ready for real food, so when they arrived at Sugarcube Corner, they grabbed a few tasty treats and a healthy fruit smoothie for the drowsy mare. They had just finished eating when Spike burst through the door, chest heaving and stationary in claw.
Opting to write the letter himself, Cerulean explained the situation regarding his brother’s wild magic and the tragedy in the forest. Knowing that Jade would likely spook when he woke, and even more so when he learned what happened, he also requested a magic limiter for his brother’s horn. Putting his signature on it, he rolled it up and gave it to Spike, who sent it away in a puff of green flames.
“Fluttershy, what are you doing?” Twilight rushed over as one of the mare’s hind legs slowly shifted, drooping off the edge of the bed. “You can’t get out of bed yet, you’re still too weak.”
“Please...” Dawn had her moments, and could be a real charmer when she put her mind to it, but she had years to go before she could ever hope to match the look that Fluttershy wore as she peered up at Twilight. “I want... to see him.” Knowing it would be far too painful to carry her physically, Twilight picked her up with her magic, bidding Cerulean lead the way. Making sure no nurses were present to try and halt the migration, they quickly made their way down to the intensive care unit where he was staying. Cerulean made it just inside before turning away, unwilling to look again.
Twilight eased Fluttershy down as gently as she could, laying her on her side. She gently ran a hoof over his bandaged chest before bringing her hoof to a rest on the side of his muzzle, speaking quietly and smiling through the tears that sprang unbidden to her eyes.
“It’s going to be ok, Whisper. I’m here.” Cerulean turned back as Redheart walked in and gave a start, not expecting anypony to be inside.
“What are... you can’t be in here, it’s...”
“Nurse, you are not to remove Fluttershy from his side under any circumstances, is that clear?” She could only stare wordlessly at the force with which Cerulean spoke. “If it’s true that ponies can still hear when they’re in a coma, then it’s going to be her voice that brings him back. Please... I want my brother to live. Let her stay.” Looking from face to face, she conceded without a fight, leaving without another word on the matter. “Fluttershy, take good care of him. I think... you’re the only pony who can.”
“Did you... hear that, Whisper? I’m staying... right here.” As Cerulean heard those words, he dared to look back at the pair. Broken, pained, and despite her positive outlook, he knew that Fluttershy was likely just as worried as he was. Still, there was one thing that couldn't be called into question, and even as his eyes roamed over his brother's battered frame, he took solace in the fact that the devotion of the mare holding him was undeniable.